Qualifying a Regular Vehicle as a Commercial Motor Vehicle in Utah

People often think of commercial motor vehicles as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or tractor-trailers. But did you know a pickup truck could be considered a commercial vehicle, too? If you were injured in a pickup truck accident, you could receive more compensation if it is legally defined and insured as a commercial motor vehicle.

The Utah truck accident attorneys at Swenson & Shelley are familiar with federal and state laws governing commercial motor vehicles and how these rules apply when collisions occur. We can investigate the crash that harmed you to determine whether the truck is a commercial motor vehicle and how it could affect your financial recovery. Let us help you pursue maximum compensation from the party responsible for the crash so you can get the peace of mind you deserve.

Contact Swenson & Shelley today for a free consultation with a truck accident attorney in Utah.

What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

At the federal level, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on highways for interstate commerce to transport passengers or property that also meets one of the following criteria:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater
  • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (driver included) for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation
  • Is used to transport hazardous materials and in a quantity requiring placarding according to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Furthermore, Utah law defines a commercial motor vehicle as “a motor vehicle, vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer used or maintained for business, compensation, or profit to transport passengers or property on a highway only within the boundaries of [the] state.”

Interstate commercial trucks in Utah are defined the by the criteria used at the federal level. To qualify as an intrastate commercial truck in Utah, the vehicle must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,000 or more pounds and be operated by an individual over the age of 18
  • Have a GVWR or GCWR of 16,001 or more pounds and be operated by an individual under 18
  • Be designed to transport more than 15 passengers (driver included)
  • Be designed to transport more than 12 passengers (including the driver) and has a GVWR or GCWR of 13,000 or more pounds
  • Be used to transport hazardous materials and must be placarded in compliance with federal law

The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum safe operating weight of a vehicle, including the net weight of the vehicle, driver, passengers, cargo, and fuel. The vehicle manufacturer sets this rating.

Common Types of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Under federal and state definitions, many vehicles could qualify as commercial motor vehicles depending on their weight, passenger capacity, or cargo. Common types of commercial motor vehicles include:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Semi-trucks
  • 18-wheelers
  • Flatbed trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Refrigerator trucks
  • School buses
  • Public transit buses
  • Fuel trucks
  • Tank trucks
  • Dump trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • Delivery trucks or vans
  • Mail trucks or vans
  • Box trucks
  • Cargo vans
  • Passenger vans

Is My Truck a Commercial Vehicle?

Your truck could be a commercial truck, depending on its weight, use, or cargo. On average, pickup trucks can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds, with variations by make and model. Let’s look at some examples of when a regular pickup might be a CMV.

A Class 1 pickup includes trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 6,000 pounds. If you’re using a Class 1 truck to haul 200 pounds of mulch to your home to finish a landscaping project, it won’t qualify as a commercial truck by weight or purpose since you are using the truck for personal reasons, not business ones.

But if you’re behind the wheel of a heavy-duty pickup with a gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle combination weight of over 10,000 pounds or 26,000 pounds, your truck could qualify as a CMV. The gross combination weight rating is the truck’s total weight plus its trailer.

A truck accident attorney can do the math to evaluate whether a truck qualifies as a commercial vehicle. Truckers who fail to weigh their vehicles or overload them can be held accountable if they fail to adhere to state and federal requirements.

What Rules or Requirements Apply to Commercial Motor Vehicles?

Owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles must comply with various federal and state regulations, such as:

  • Commercial driver’s license requirements
  • Registration requirements for truck owners
  • Drug and alcohol use regulations for drivers
  • Maintenance regulations for owners and drivers
  • Hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for truckers

How Does Commercial Vehicle Status Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

If you sustain injuries in an accident with a truck classified as a commercial vehicle, your personal injury claim could be affected in several ways.

First, commercial motor vehicles are subject to many federal and state regulations that a passenger vehicle is not. If the owner or operator of a commercial motor vehicle fails to comply with one of these regulations, and that failure results in an accident that harms you, you would have a strong case against them for breaking the law.

Second, commercial motor vehicles are subject to higher amounts of liability insurance. In Utah, drivers of passenger cars must carry minimum liability insurance of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $65,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $15,000 per accident for property damage. On the other hand, commercial motor vehicles transporting property within Utah must maintain a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. Commercial vehicles must have higher liability coverage because accidents involving these vehicles often result in more severe and devastating injuries and losses. Therefore, you may be able to pursue more compensation after an accident with a commercial motor vehicle than in a crash with a passenger vehicle.

Injured in Utah by a Commercial Truck or Vehicle? Contact Our Truck Accident Professionals

If you were injured by a commercial motor vehicle in Utah, the truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley will stand up for you. We can help you seek just compensation for your losses. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.